1. Overview

The Domain Name System (DNS) is the phonebook of the Internet. DNS is a hierarchical and distributed naming system for computers, services, and other resources on the Internet. It’s partitioned into several different zones called DNS zones, where each zone is used to host the records for a particular domain.

In this tutorial, we’ll learn how to use the dig command to list all DNS records in a domain.

2. DNS Records

All computers on the Internet find and communicate with one another by using IP addresses. DNS translates domain names into IP addresses so computers can communicate with each other.

A DNS record is an entry in a DNS database that maps a domain name to an IP address. In addition, it provides additional routing and resolution information about a domain.

Every DNS record has a type that defines what the content of the record means. There are many different types of DNS records, and most of them are used only occasionally. Only a couple of record types are used frequently. Common DNS record types are:

  • NS: the record contains the names server for a DNS entry
  • A: the record contains the IPv4 address for a domain
  • AAAA: the record contains the IPv6 address for a domain
  • MX: the record contains the mail exchange server for a domain
  • CNAME: the record maps a domain to another domain
  • TXT: the record contains text notes
  • SRV: the record contains information about the location of a particular service

Now, let’s look at an A record entry:

yahoo.com.  1452  IN  A

This record shows the IP addresses associated with the domain name yahoo.com.

3. The dig Command

The dig (Domain Information Groper) command obtains DNS-related information for a given domain. It performs DNS lookup by querying name servers and displays the results concerning various DNS records it finds.

3.1. Installation

The dig utility is available on Linux and macOS. Most Linux distributions include it by default, so we can use it immediately. If it isn’t installed, we can install it from the command line.

To install it in Debian-based Linux systems, we can use the apt package manager:

$ sudo apt-get install dnsutils

For Fedora-based distributions, we can use the yum package manager:

$ sudo yum install bind-utils

3.2. Syntax

Let’s look at the dig command’s syntax:

$ dig [server] [name] [type]

The [server] argument is the IP address or hostname of the name server to query. It’s optional, and if we don’t provide one, then dig uses the name server listed in /etc/resolv.conf. The [name] argument is the name of the resource record that is to be looked up, and [type] is the type of query requested by dig.

For example, type can be an A record or any other type. By default, the dig command performs a lookup for the A record if no type argument is determined.

3.3. Sample Command

Now, let’s perform a DNS lookup for a domain name by passing the name along with the dig command:

$ dig yahoo.com

; <<>> DiG 9.18.1-1ubuntu1.3-Ubuntu <<>> yahoo.com
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 42357
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 6, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 1


yahoo.com.		5	IN	A
yahoo.com.		5	IN	A
yahoo.com.		5	IN	A
yahoo.com.		5	IN	A
yahoo.com.		5	IN	A
yahoo.com.		5	IN	A

The output contains the A records and other information like the installed dig version, technical details about the results, and statistics about the query, along with a few other items.

4. List All DNS Records Using dig

To list all DNS records in the domain zone, we use the type any switch of dig:

$ dig [name] any

For instance, let’s find all DNS records for yahoo.com:

$ dig yahoo.com any

Let’s see the output:

yahoo.com.		117920	IN	NS	ns5.yahoo.com.
yahoo.com.		117920	IN	NS	ns1.yahoo.com.
yahoo.com.		117920	IN	NS	ns4.yahoo.com.
yahoo.com.		117920	IN	NS	ns2.yahoo.com.
yahoo.com.		117920	IN	NS	ns3.yahoo.com.
yahoo.com.		1287	IN	MX	1 mta6.am0.yahoodns.net.
yahoo.com.		1287	IN	MX	1 mta5.am0.yahoodns.net.
yahoo.com.		1287	IN	MX	1 mta7.am0.yahoodns.net.
yahoo.com.		1452	IN	A
yahoo.com.		1452	IN	A
yahoo.com.		1452	IN	A
yahoo.com.		1452	IN	A
yahoo.com.		1452	IN	A
yahoo.com.		1452	IN	A

In the above example, we queried all DNS records for the domain yahoo.com using the type any. There, we see that the name servers for yahoo.com are ns1.yahoo.com through ns5.yahoo.com.

5. Conclusion

DNS records of various types provide important information about a hostname or domain. In this article, we learned how to list all DNS records for a domain using the dig command.

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